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February 13, 2013
Bulldogs Bite Is As Big As Their Bark: It was a packed house at The Kennel at King's Fork High School on Tuesday night for the Southeastern District Tournament semifinals as the host Bulldogs played their archrival, the Nansemond River Warriors for a chance at playing for a Championship in three days.
While the two teams technically split during the regular season due to the Warriors have to forfeit a victory over King's Fork from early in the 2012-13 campaign, King's Fork was chomping at the bit beat a Nansemond River team that won two head-to-head meetings on the court, plus the last three on their home floor.
After seeing their lead of 17 get cut down to just four with 1:21 remaining, King's Fork closed by scoring seven of the game's final ten points to prevail 71-63.
"There are times when we're up and people want to speed it up to make us play fast. Just because they want to play fast doesn't meant we have to speed it up. That's something we have to continue to grow and get better at," admitted King's Fork Head Basketball Coach Josh Worrell.
"They know what's at stake. Any time whether we're playing Nansemond River or Lakeland, it's a rival game. It doesn't matter who the five is on the floor for them or who the five is on the floor for us. I think we did a great job defensively understanding what we wanted to do."
Four players scored in double-figures for the Bulldogs, who shot 49% from the field in the first half. Nansemond River hit a season-high nine three-pointers in defeat. King's Fork outscored the Warriors in the paint however, 40-26.
Although Smith didn't have a field goal in the second half, he got King's Fork off to a fantastic start, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the first half with a pair of assists (four for the game). He scored nine points in the second quarter when the Bulldogs outscored Nansemond River 22-12 in the eight-minute stretch before half-time. They turned it over only twice in that period as well.
"In the previous games against them, we were playing too passive and trying to be too unselfish," Smith noted afterwards. "We've just got to keep attacking and more points will come. Defensively, we're fine, we just have to get more shots up, play hard and the shots will come."
#1 - - Penetration & Balance: Consistently, King's Fork drove it to the rack on Nansemond River in the first half and it paid off with bucket after bucket. It wasn't just Smith either.
Point guard Akanni White had 14 points. Forward Donte Ralph inside scored 13 points, many of which came off the guards' penetration because he got only one offensive rebound, but scored five baskets, four in the lane. Then there was guard Rod Parrett, another senior eager to help the Bulldogs put up a district tournament Championship banner on the wall.
Parrett finished with 12 points and only three of them were from long range, a specialty of his. He also dished out three assists. Parrett wanted to get his defenders off their feet.
"They say I'm known as a shooter, but then some people think that's all you can do," Parrett said. "Coach always tells me to pump-fake, so when I got the ball, I was looking to do that and go to the cup. It worked."
But the Bulldogs kept Drew off the foul line as he only attempted two shots from the charity stripe, and Nansemond River didn't bludgeon them on the boards with King's Fork getting 13 offensive rebounds. Ralph's scoring and Wallace McDowney's rebounding, collecting eight of his nine boards in the first half, neutralized the Warriors' front-court weapons.
"They're just the workhorses for us," Worrell said of Ralph and McDowney. "At first, I started calling them out, but then I said it was a great, collective team effort.
"I think we limited Ed Drew on [all but] maybe one offensive post move the whole game. Now, did he get some buckets and get some shots off second chance buckets or tips, yeah, but he had only had it one time and that was in the first half. The guys really bought into what we wanted to do against him."
He had two key rejections early in the fourth quarter, one preventing a fast-break lay-up for Nansemond River that could've brought them closer before the Warriors' Devon Oakley hit three shots from long distance in the game's final six minutes. Oakley scored nine of his 18 points in the final quarter. Nansemond River's other two perimeter players of note, Scott Spencer and Kendric Washington, combined for just 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Additionally, four of King's Fork 10 steals came in the fourth and final stanza with four different players swiping the ball away.
The Bulldogs will be trying to claim their first district tournament crown since 2003. They beat Western Branch in both regular season meetings. Whichever team wins gets the #2 seed for the region playoffs and will play at Western Branch, while the loser gets the #3 seed and faces the Beach District Tournament Champ at Princess Anne HS in Monday's opening round.
Matthew Hatfield serves as AAA State Basketball Analyst for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related info and updates. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to him on the VirginiaPreps.com Hour every Saturday at 11AM on ESPN Radio 94.1 and watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.
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